Leroy Colbert didn't win many bodybuilding titles back in the 1950s, but he was featured on many magazine covers. His claim to fame? He was the first man to build 21-inch biceps drug-free. He was also known for his unique approach to training.
Colbert was adamant about full-body training and said he never trained productively any other way. In Colbert's time, the norm was 3 sets per body part. Many bodybuilders back then believed that doing more than 3 sets would make their muscles shrink. Nevertheless, Colbert went against the grain, started doing 6 sets per body part, and the rest is history.
I've successfully recommended this type of routine to dozens of lifters and used Colbert's method exclusively to gain 16 pounds of mostly lean bodyweight while keeping my waist the exact same size.
- Train your entire body every other day.
- Keep the reps between 6 to 10. If you get 10 reps on all sets, increase the weight.
- Perform at least 6 sets per body part for optimal growth.
- Establish a mini push/pull setup within the workout. As such, don't train chest right after triceps or biceps directly after back. For example, training the body in this order fulfills this requirement: Triceps, biceps, chest, back, thighs, shoulders, and finally, calves.
- Do 6 sets each for a total of 42 sets.
The basic idea of Colbert's routine is to have a list of exercises for each muscle group you cycle through (two per training day), increase the weight whenever possible, and get plenty of rest and proper nutrition.
For example, if you wanted to prioritize your arms, your routine for a particular day might look something like this:
|A1||Body Drag Curl||4||6-10|
|A2||Close Grip Bench||4||6-10|
|B2||Overhead Triceps Extension||4||6-10|
|C2||Incline Bench Press||3||6-10|
|D1||Bent-Over Barbell Row||3||6-10|
|D2||Decline Dumbbell Fly||3||6-10|
|E1||Barbell Front Squat||3||6-10|
|F2||Dumbbell Lateral Raise||3||6-10|
|G||Standing Calf Raise||3||12-15|
|H||Seated Calf Raise||3||12-15|
Total Sets: 46
Rest Between Sets: 1 minute
Set Length: 32 seconds (4 seconds per rep)
Total Time Per Workout: 1 hour and 10 minutes
This routine stimulates every major muscle three times a week. Moreover, it's a very flexible routine and you should be able to make it your own and reap maximum benefits with the tips below.
Make It Your Own
Take advantage of the fact you're training each body part 3 times a week by varying the rep ranges. For example, if strength is your primary concern, then do 5 sets of 5 on two of the days.
If you have a favorite exercise that consistently gives you gains, by all means put it as one of your 5 alternates. On the other hand, if something like behind the neck press causes you pain, knock it off the list immediately.
Full-body training is very effective at bringing up weak body parts because you can hit them first three times a week.